Caroline Chisholm

Caroline Chisholm was a prominent female social worker in the 1800s.

Honour Roll

Caroline Chisholm was born in Northampton, England to a well-off farmer and, at age 22, married Captain Archibald Chisholm of the East India Company. In 1832, he was posted to Madras where Caroline founded the Female School of Industry for the Daughters of European Soldiers. The Chisholms, with three sons, moved to Sydney in 1838.

Caroline discovered that the government had no plans for the many immigrants who arrived without employment, so she met the ships and assisted the female immigrants. In January 1841, she petitioned Governor and Lady Gipps with a plan for a girls' home and was subsequently provided with part of an old immigration barracks to establish the Female Immigrants Home.

Her next mission was to find employment for the women and she soon established a dozen employment agencies in rural areas. She went on to push for other reforms, undaunted by the constant battles with authority. Caroline returned to England in 1846 to successfully fight for free passage for emancipists' wives and children. Her house became an Australian information centre. In 1849, she established the Family Colonisation Loan Society which lent families money for passage to Australia and found them employment once they arrived. By 1854, when Caroline sailed back to Australia, the Society had sent more than 3000 emigrants. She toured the Victorian goldfields and pushed for the construction of shelter sheds en route.

The family moved to Kyneton where they ran a store but Caroline moved to Sydney for medical attention. Financial necessity forced her to open a girls' school in Newtown, which was later moved to Tempe. In 1866, the Chisholms returned to England, where they lived humbly until Caroline died in 1877, survived by three sons and two daughters. Buried in Northampton, her birthplace, her headstone was inscribed 'the emigrant's friend'.